Erich Weiss is just going to take it one at-bat at a time.
The junior, heralded as one of the best hitters on the slumping Longhorns’ roster, has been slumping in recent games but plans to focus on giving 110 percent and improving during the Longhorns’ do-or-die series against West Virginia this weekend.
“We all realize our situation, we’ve dug ourselves into a big hole,” Weiss said. “It is kind of like a fear of losing. We used to feel that we need to win and we have to win. Every time we make a mistake they seem to be able to capitalize on it and we can’t come back.”
Weiss is hitting .323 at the plate, second on the team behind junior Mark Payton and his .397 batting average. Over the past few games, Weiss has been frustrated at the plate. This past week against UT-Pan American, Weiss went 0-for-5 against a struggling Broncs pitching staff. Weiss has gone a staggering 7-for-33 this month and has seen his average drop from the .360 at which it started at the beginning of April.
“It’s very frustrating,” Weiss said of struggling. “I just need to keep it up at the plate. Don’t swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, don’t help a pitcher and take what you can get.”
Despite his recent struggles, Weiss has the full support of the coaching staff and of the team. Texas head coach Augie Garrido still refers to Weiss as his star-at-the plate and as a “monster hitter.” With the increase in errors and the decrease in production at the plate, Garrido said that the frustration builds and leads to more mistakes and less success.
“The demon gets bigger and bigger,” Garrido said of the growing frustration of losing. “Whatever you fear, you make happen, and we are afraid, we’re kind of paralyzed at the plate.”
In what could be his final season at Texas, if he decides to submit his name to the MLB draft this summer, Weiss is still optimistic about the Longhorns’ chances and is itching to get into the postseason. As he proved in practice this week, Weiss can still spray uncatchable balls deep into the outfield better than almost anybody else on the roster.
“We play just as good as any team. We’re doing the wrong thing at the right time,” Weiss said. “The coaches have talked to us individually and as a team and I think we’re pretty excited to get into this series this weekend to show that we can play.”
The Longhorns will host West Virginia in a three-game series this weekend starting with Game One on Friday night at 7 p.m. Games Two and Three will follow on Saturday and Sunday. In their inaugural Big 12 season, the Mountaineers have been struggling, going 21-17 on the season and 4-5 in Big 12 play. This is the first time that the two teams will meet.
“This is definitely a needed series to win, especially because it would be our only Big 12 series to win,” junior pitcher Corey Knebel said. “We definitely need the momentum and it’s do or die.”